Life’s Highway To everyone their openeth
A way, ways, and a way; And the high soul takes the high way, The low soul takes the low; While in between on the misty flats The rest drift to and fro. But to everyone their openeth
A high way and low. And everyone decideth
The way his soul shall go. (I memorized this poem when I was 13)
Taking up where we left off in: “Pt 23: Mom, Dad, Me, and Polygamy on Parade:”
Today, let’s expand on a disturbing theme I mentioned earlier: My sister Mary told me Mother made advances toward her ex-husband polygamist Sigfried Widmar. (He already had a number of plural wives at the time.) Ugh!
Not sure if Mumma married Siegfried. But it’s disgusting to court, let alone marry your own daughter’s ex-husband — especially given that Sig verybadly mistreated Mum’s daughter, my sister Mary, while she was married to him. Not only that, Sig had greatly neglected and maltreated his three sons Mary bore him (Mum’s grandchildren), including never visiting them nor sending child-support after the divorce!
Mumma was taking care of herself and lacked a sense of boundaries. But messy Mormon fundamentalism and religious polygamy leave ample space for disgrace — ample justification for fornication. Incest is common. Mothers and daughters married to the same man, in some polygamist cults, is but one example.
While Daddy was still living, Mother had designs on MY husband William Preston Tucker! She was in love with him, idolized him, and fantasized that she would be married to him in the celestial kingdom (if not sooner!) — one avenue Mormon polygamy allows! (Orthodox Mormons believe righteous Mormon men will have any number of wives in heaven — so it doesn’t matter that here on earth they are your own mother, ma-in-law, daughter, et Al!
Mother would turn on like a Christmas tree fawning over MY husband polygamist Bill Tucker whenever he came around! She literally preened about like a peacock in heat waving her fan along with her tailfeathers to wow my “cock” — showing him she was his fan … wanted him to be herfan.
As a part of her courting fanfare, “peacock-hen” Ma performed for my lover Bill her fanciest piano pieces — difficult classics like Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto in C Sharp Minor (six sharps!), “Debussy’s difficult tone poem “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun“ (https://youtu.be/fW0Y3M4EJ4M”), his beautiful level-seven-piano piece “Clair de Lune (5 flats) — and Chopin’s “Heroic Polonaise” in A flat (5 flats). I love these and Mumma’s many other piano pieces she played.
My Grandma Maud LeBaron also played some of the pieces Ma played — she taught a few of them to my mom her daughter Esther LeBaron Spencer, and helped her improve all the pieces she performed — Grandma had good taste — a consummate artist! Check out the above piano pieces — All can be found on YouTube.com —Oh, Mum knew how to impress — and knew how beloved Billy took toclassical music!
Bill fancied himself classy when he listened to and appreciated classical music. Thank God Mum’s mom, my Pianist/piano-teaching Grandma Maud LeBaron saw to it Mummy got ample years of private piano lessons and plenty of time to practice and perfect her pretty, fancy piano pieces; otherwise, Mumma wouldn’t have had much to impress others with — fat-at-40 with her fourteen beautiful kidlings straggling along behind her fanned-out fan feathers!
Though Bill had both a Bachelor of Science degree with honors and an Honorary Masters degree from UCLA and had also taught for a while at Texas Western University, he was always conscious of the fact he grew up on the poor side of town. (He was born in 1936 — the height of the Depression era.) He was ashamed of his handsome and charming father, who, though an artist and talented musician, was never well-to-do and made his living as a machinist and Foreman in a factory.
But that’s only the half of it when it comes to Mumma flying in, in her fantasy world (for let it be known that Mumma lived in quite a dreamworld) and coming on to my charismatic hubby like a peacock spreading its fantastic fan feathers! She was strutting her stuff while fantasizing about being Bill’s favorite wife in the hereafter — if not in the here-and-now — while I was still married to and greatly neglected by my Billy … and she was still married to my daddy!!
She was having her problems with her hot-tempered, tyrannical spouse — my mean, aged papa twenty-six years her senior. But I was having my troubles with Bill too! He was no saint! Just a brilliant Alpha Male many women and men were in love. They, like me, idolized and adored gifted “Charming Billy.”
(Remember the song: “Oh, where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh, where have you been, charming Billy? (Bill could play it like a Pro on his Martin ukulele!) People in the cult couldn’t get enough of Billy-Boy Tucker. Many wanted to mate with him to get even closer — wanted to be a part of this amazing creaton … wanted to connect sexually. (Not sure how many ever did but they wanted to.)
Fuck! As luck would have it, much to my grief, Bill, my spouse the louse, left me after four-and-a-half trying years. That is, he “put me aside” — separated from me because, after too much suffering and disappointment, I had dissociated — had withdrawn bodily feeling for him. I had told him I no longer felt anything — was numb during conjugal relationships — no longer even felt when he fondled my once highly sensitive breasts! I’d managed to shut off physical feelings for him in an effort to distance myself from the eternal emotional pain caused by him and polygamy.
His “putting me aside” — that is, separating from me — though it devastated me, didn’t bother Mama at all! She saw it as a windfall for her! So it goes without saying, she didn’t sympathize with me and my sorrow, let alone did she try to help her twenty-year-old me patch things up with my precious hubby. Instead, Ma gleefully licked her chops for her chance to top me and take up with Billy in my place; i.e., displace me! (How would you like to have your mom as your competition — as if Bill’s other wives, boyfriends, and suitors weren’t competition enough!)
But a few months later, as Lady Fuck fanned her cards, Mother’s aces in the hole fell like dumped dominoes: After Bill separated from me, he secretly skipped out of Colonia LeBaron and Mom’s life! Then, safely hidden from Mom’s brother my uncle Ervil LeBaron — and his Danites — Bill announced he had left the LeBaron cult and Mormon fundamentalism for good and forever.
Then, three months after that, Bill died! “God took Bill!” said the true-believing cult members. “It’s payback for his leaving the one and only true church!”
Actually, Bill died of a ruptured appendix — payback for years in a cult where he couldn’t afford physicals even if he would visit a doctor. Sadly, Bill was allergic to the wonder drug Penicillin, the modern miracle medicine that has wiped out most deaths these days due to a burst appendix. (Penicillin cures the once-fatal infection, peritonitis, that quickly sets in following a ruptured appendix.)
You should have seen Mother at Bill’s funeral! It was held in Southern California. But she made sure to catch a ride leaving Mexico to go to the United States though she couldn’t afford it. Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer simply had to attend her son-in-law (fantasy lover) Bill’s burial!
At the graveside, Ma was so caught up in her “poor me” misfortune of losing her dream-lover Bill that her daughter, myself, was insignificant in her eyes. She wanted everybody to feel sorry for HER because SHE lost her “son-in-law.”
So caught up in her attention-getting drama and trying to get in touch with her own feelings was Mama that she never once acknowledged me and mine. Never walked over to say hello to me, her grieving girl, let alone did she show me any sympathy or empathy — never inquired as to how I might feel about my adored husband’s suddenly and unexpectedly dying! Of course, I had left her church by then so perhaps she was simply shunning me. (?) But so had her “Billy” apostatized from her church! Go figure.
At the Memorial Service, immature Mama hadn’t comforted me, either. She was probably unnerved that I was there! And it seemed I was supposed to be fawning over her! Go figure again. I already have … long since: The poor lady had a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic I was only an appendage swinging off her like a pendulum: If she was okay, I was okay. She didn’t totally see me as a viable and dynamic entity separate from herself. (We’ll discuss this topic more in a future chapter.)
(Continued September 18, 2018: in “Pt 25: Mom, Dad, Me, and Polygamy on Parade”)
My Memoir: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade — Part 23
“People see what they want to see
till they want to see.” Dena McLean
I left off in blog, “Pt 22: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade,” saying: Mama preached polygamy and told people they would go to hell if they did not live it, but other than her first six months of marriage to Daddy, she never shared/ had to share her own husband/my father in the whole twenty-two years she was married to him.
But not long after Daddy died, she once again “helped save” a man by becoming his plural wife — as she had with Daddy. I mentioned this man in a previous blog: This new husband was an attractive LDS Mormon man around fifty years of age: Mel Orchard. He was as big a windbag as Ma! But a bigger kicker is his legal wife, a mainline Mormon, didn’t know the marriage took place! Mother was around forty-six or so, then.
She was not married to windbag Mel for long. In an effort to become his favorite wife, Ma manipulated a sixteen-year-old virgin into becoming old-man Mel’s third wife. To make a long story shorter, word has it she told this young girl and her family she’d had a revelation their daughter was to marry “her” husband Mel. But Ma’s ploy backfired on her.
After helping old-man-Mel secure his child bride, much to her ire, he neglected Mama. As you might imagine, her efforts and sacrifice to please her new husband did not bring in the appreciation and favoritism from him she believed and preached was supposed to happen when a woman got her husband another wife “to build up his kingdom.” (Mormon fundamentalism has all kinds of pie-in-the-sky, not-down-to-earth beliefs about plural marriage and how it’s supposed to work!)
My dreamer but let-down Ma was too jealous, hurt, and aggravated to remain married to her heart-throb Melvin after procuring for him a nubile maid only to find her manipulations ended up losing more of his love and time, rather than gaining her more of it. The old gentleman spent most of his time and energy trying to please his new teenage wife — trying to get it up and on with this adolescent “fawn”!
Not long after that, Ma took up with an old High School flame, a handsome Hispanic hunk — Catholic, charming, and very married — who lived in Chihuahua City, a-few-hours-drive from her residence in Colonia LeBaron. When she was in her teens, Mother’s parents would not allow her to marry him: He was of the wrong religion and race. But she and this stunningly gorgeous Mexican man had never fallen out of love.
Now, many years later and a lot of water under the bridge and despite his being married, his wife not knowing about it, and hisnot being Mormon, Mama carried on a back-room bedroom affair with him — perhaps hoping she could convert him to Mormon fundamentalism in time (?). I witnessed a part of that affair when, while visiting her in 1973, he chanced to drop by.
Mama told her kids and me she was taking her “friend” into her den “to discuss the gospel.” But I was an astute twenty-seven-year-old who had been around the block a few times by then. The sounds coming from her lioness’s den — squeaking springs combined with climactic screams — were not the sounds of discussing the gospel, no matter how exciting the discussion was!
(Continued September 7, 2018: “Pt 24: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade”)
“There’ll be two dates on your tombstone And all your friends will read ‘em; But all that’s going to matter- Is that little dash between ‘em.” Kevin Welch
LIFE’S DASH by Stephany Spencer 1- Between the date of birth and death, There’s always a little dash — To me, it depicts life’s run-time, So I call the line “life’s dash.”
This dash mark on a gravestone, As in football’s forty-yard dash*, Represents our life’s game, That’s over in a flash.
2- So ‘Midst the trauma ‘n’ melodrama, Strum, ‘n’ strife, ‘n’ stress, Let’s take time, now and then, To review our life in progress.
During the period of our dash, Let’s consider our one-act scene; Are we a human-doing,
Or are we a human being?
3- While busy making our mark in life, Let’s enjoy our jaunty trip — Our journey through this cosmic world. But here’s a timely tip:
There’ll be two dates on our grave plaque Separated by a dash, But it’s how we live life’s dash that speaks, Not silent sod nor ash.
CHORUS: Those we’ve known may forget, After we’ve done life’s “splash,” Our date of birth and death,
But not how we did life’s dash.”
TAG: Don’t forget, they won’t forget How we lived “life’s dash.”
* Since the following video recording was done, I’ve rewritten part of my “Dash” song I performed at the California Writers Club 11/4/2017 — the day before “All Saints Day.”
Coach Lou Holtz read the following composition
to his players in 1996 at a team meeting:
From “A Teen’s Game Plan for Life” by Lou Holtz:
“A few years ago Notre Dame went over to Dublin, Ireland to play the Naval Academy in football.
“When we were over there, we went to a twelfth-century cemetery. All we saw was a group of dilapidated walls and huge tombstones. One of our players, Alton Maiden, sat down at this cemetery and wrote the following poem:”
The DASH (By Alton Maiden, 1995)
I’ve seen death staring at me with my own eyes
In a way many cannot know. I’ve seen death take lots of people
But leave me here below.
I’ve heard many mothers’ cries
But death refused to hear. And in my life, I’ve seen many faces
Filled with many tears. After death has come and gone
A tombstone sits for us to see. It’s not more than a symbol
Of a person’s memory.
I read the person’s name, Read date of birth, see the dash —
And the date the person passed. Then, thinking about the tombstone,
Realize the important thing is the dash.
Yes, I see the name of the person
But that I might forget. I read the date of birth and death
But even that may not stick.
But thinking about the person
I can’t help but think of “the dash.” Because that represents one’s life
And that will always last.
So when you begin to charter your life
Make sure it’s a positive path. People may forget your birth and death But always remember: They’ll never forget your dash.
It’s one thing to run a fast 40-yard dash in shorts on a fast track, but does that speed translate to the football field?
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul Brown started this whole mess. But I bet the man who invented the use of a 40-yard dash never thought it would become this big.
How big? So big that when I worked with the Oakland Raiders, the 40 dictated everything we did — and I mean everything.
Brown, the former Cleveland Browns head coach and Bengals founder, wanted to determine how fast his players were covering a punt, so he chose 40 yards — the distance most punts traveled — as a measuring stick. Little did he know that a 40 time would become such a huge phenomenon.
Michael Conroy / Associated Press
Chris Johnson has the fastest 40 time since 2006. His speed has translated to the NFL, but that’s not the case for everyone. Check out the entire list here.
Think about it: What’s the one question every single prospect leaving the NFL Scouting Combine this year will be asked? “What was your forty time?”
Maybe Brown should have patented his idea.
The 40 time has become the measuring tool for most teams and, yes, I have to admit, I relied on knowing the times of each player. And if I was building a team I would want specific requirements of height, weight, and speed for each position. My goal would be to have a big, fast football team — not a track team that forced me to rely solely on the 40-yard dash in shorts.
Back in his day, Brown’s 40-yard test looked vastly different than the one being utilized at the combine today, even though the distance traveled is the same. In today’s 40, players work on their start from an elongated three-point stance — unlike the one used in football — trying to gain yardage with their first step. The runners stay low for the first 10 yards, not raising their head, and finish 10 yards past the end line.
Little did Coach Brown know that agents would one day send their clients to speed camps hoping to improve their 40-yard times and their draft status.
With time comes improvement, so naturally the 40 times have improved as players have gotten stronger, highly trained and in peak condition. But the essential value of this quick dash as a measuring stick has not changed. The most fundamental question that must be asked after knowing a player’s time and what makes the 40 a valued tool: Does he play the game of football with that speed?
For example, Deion Sanders was lightning fast at the combine in New Orleans in 1989. By more than one account, he ran the 40 in 4.19 seconds, thought to be the second-fastest ever run at the combine (Bo Jackson has the fastest verifiable combine 40 time of 4.12 seconds in 1986). And Sanders just kept on running, Forrest Gump-style, right into the locker room. However, the key validation came when Sanders showed he was fast on the football field, as well. His speed translated to his game, which then validated the 40-yard dash.
There have been players that time fast in the 40, but when watching them play football they don’t look nearly as fast. Jets defensive end Vernon Gholston ran extremely well at the combine, but when he was evaluated on tape from Ohio State, his speed never translated to the field. Little wonder he has played three years in the league and has yet to record a sack. He isn’t the only one. There have been countless workout warriors who have shown well at the combine and failed in the NFL.
Some players are fast, but do not play fast, while others time slow, but play fast in pads. And that is the key for finding the right balance when using the 40 times as a measuring stick. Like all things, when evaluating college players, everything falls back to the evaluation of playing the game. Does this player play fast? Can his 40 time be seen when he puts on his pads?
Surfaces can be deceiving, too. When Coach Brown started running his 40s, grass was the only surface he had his players run on. Today, with many different surfaces available, it becomes a challenge to adjust the time correctly. It is widely understood that a player is much faster on a track and turf than grass, but the question remains how much faster. When I worked with the Raiders, and even now, they adjust every time from the combine slower. If a player runs 4.47 at Indy, the Raiders will adjust it to around 4.51. For the Raiders, the 40 is everything, so they make it difficult for prospects to run a great time.
Adjusting the times can create a problem. What happens to a player who runs bad at the combine but improves his time at his campus workout? Does he move up the board? If he does, then why should players even run in Indy? And is the adjustment the right number or a number arbitrarily picked out of a hat?
When I headed the Browns‘ personnel department, we would always use the natural Indy time as our official 40 times. Jim Schwartz, a scout of ours at the time and current head coach of the Detroit Lions, kept a database of times run at Indy and those run at the school’s pro days. Believe it or not, some of the 40 times were actually slower on the home surface than at Indy. We wanted to have some consistency of adjustments.
But even with the consistency of adjustments, all these variables made the 40 time extremely difficult to use as the sole measuring stick. In Cleveland, we knew it was an important tool, but it can’t be the only tool because the playing speed must match the time speed.
When sitting at home this weekend watching the combine, remind yourself of two critical points when making an evaluation. The first, never begin with the end in mind, and secondly, never believe the 40 time unless you can see the speed during a game.
If you follow those two rules to the end, then even from your couch you can pick the right players.
Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz” from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1942 by Heast Magazines, Inc. Used by permission of Doubleday, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
All rights reserved.
Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (1961)
My Memoir Backstory “My Daddy” takes up where I left off writing “My Memoir Introduction: I Was Born a “Saint.” After I wrote this blog, I realized I’d put the cart before the horse — started my Memoir bass-ackwards: I got myself born before I told you anything about how I got here.
Since we all come from the past, my readers ought to know what it is that went into my making. So I’ve decided to present a bunch of backstory, beginning with my father, Floyd Otto Spencer. Ending with my mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer and her LeBaron backstory.
After this backstory, I’ll continue with my Memoir. It will include more tales about Mother and Father as they intertwine throughout my life.
Now for a bit of how I got here from the past. And some of what went into my making.
My Daddy, Part 1
My handsome five-foot-10.5-inch, black-haired, black-eyed, dark-skinned (when tanned) father was a hot-tempered, strict, shy, witty, sharp-tongued, short-fused, highly gifted man. “Daddy,” as we called him, was also a sensitive Artist and Creative.
Born July 27, 1895, in Marion, Michigan. He died on my birthday, April 18, 1965, in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico. I had just turned 19 years old that day. His death was the outcome of a freak “accident.” I believe my Mother, Esther LeBaron Spencer, and her brother, my Uncle Ervil LeBaron, had a hand in it. (I will relate this whole incident in my upcoming Memoir.)
Born in a backwoods frontier town, Daddy was very much of pioneer stock. His parents were mostly of English descent, he believed. He was unable to track his full genealogy. But knew his mother was one-half Indigenous American — Mohawk Indian to be exact.
One Sunday afternoon, in our small living room, lit only by light from the windows and fireplace, Mother was giving Daddy his monthly, expert-looking haircut, when we children, catching Daddy captive, saw a good chance to gather around his knees and pepper him with questions about his parents, grandparents, and past.
He was usually busy working. And even now he was hesitant to answer all our forward questions. But when asked about his bloodline, he sheepishly responded:
“My grandmother on my mother’s side was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian squaw. I used to visit her in her Hogan from time to time.” He was embarrassed to admit this. But then he added:
“She was a typical Indian … Sweet, poor, and no furniture to speak of. I can still see her squatting on the floor as she did her routine work in her dark little Hogan that had only one window and a fire burning in the middle of the room — smoke rising up and out through a hole in the ceiling.”
This helps to explain why Daddy used to chide Mother when he saw her squatting on the floor sorting beans or such. He’d cry: “You look like an old Indian squaw! Get up and sit on a chair at the table to sort your beans — like a civilized person!!”
However, after joining the LeBaron cult and learning from my uncles the Mormon beliefs Joseph Smith taught about the American Indians — that they “were part of the lost ten tribes of Israel, and were going to play a very important role in the last days,” Daddy made an effort to get in touch with the indigenous American Indian side of himself.
He even began to exhibit pride in being at least one-quarter American Indian. I say “at least” because he was not sure of his full heritage — only that his mother was half American Indian.
But one day he took a trip to visit the Hopi and Navajo Indian villages in Arizona and New Mexico, returning home feeling very exhilarated, uplifted, and more proud than ever of his Indian heritage. It rubbed off on me: I’m at least one-eighth American Indian, and proud of it.
My Daddy(around ages 19 & 53 consecutively)
“Show me someone who
believes you can’t change history, and I’ll show you someone who
hasn’t tried to write their memoirs.” Mark Twain
My Daddy, Part 2
Daddy was his parents’ only child. They divorced when he was three years old. When he was 14 years old, his mother bore a daughter, Doris, by her second marriage. Sadly, when he was 27, she died of rheumatic fever, leaving Daddy his mother’s only child again — though he had half-sisters from his father’s second marriage that he eventually got to meet and spend some time with.
He was raised Methodist and held White Anglo-Saxon Protestant values, including their strong work ethic. Daddy was always a hard worker. You might even say he was a workaholic. That figures: His father was a “raging alcoholic.” Going to extremes in any area is indicative of addiction. God is a drug for religious addicts –– religious fanatics. Daddy gave up alcohol and tobacco when he joined the Mormon church at around age 28. Religion then became his drug of choice.)
“Twelve-Steppers,” especially ACA’S/ Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families — a 12-step program — know what I’m talking about. If these terms are new to you, it might be worth looking up 12-step organizations in your area. They were very valuable in my development, given the dysfunctional family I was brought-up in — I mean brought-down in!
Now back to more bio about Dad: “At around age four,” Daddy told me, “my mother gave me away to her sisters to raise. Years later, Mother wanted me back. But I refused to go back because I was so hurt and angry at her for what she’d done!! I was happier living with my aunts and cousins, anyway,” remarked my father.
Then he continued, “I often had to dig tunnels in the snow during winter time to get to school because the snow piled up so high. Sometimes it was up higher than the schoolhouse door. My school consisted of one room and one teacher teaching all the grades from 1st through 12th.
“I didn’t do very well in her classroom— Didn’t get along with that didactic, strict, bossy teacher. She regularly humiliated me in front of the class … often made me sit in the corner with a dunce cap on … partly because I was the clown of the class — always making the students laugh due to my witty wisecracks and cutting up.
“In fifth grade, I couldn’t take any more of this mean, punishing teacher. (I’d had her since first grade.) So I dropped out — refused to go to her one-room school anymore — though it was the only school around. I just couldn’t learn under her tutelage.
“However, from then on, I felt I was a failure, in many ways — not to mention that my parents divorced, then Mother gave me away when I was so little. That affected my self-worth. But due to my one and only elementary school teacher, I further questioned my self-worth, because I kind of believed it was due to my lack of brains that I wasn’t getting better grades in this teacher’s class.”
That bad impression of himself as a student and person went with him throughout his life. It affected his self-confidence and self-esteem, further adding to his shyness, and his oftentimes not feeling very good about himself … in some ways.
But lack of a good supporting education, in and of itself, is enough to affect anyone’s self-confidence and achievement in life. They see many people able to accomplish things they cannot accomplish, often not realizing their only drawback was they had no competitive foundation — as in Daddy’s case where he had only a poor, one-room classroom education typical of the early 1900’s in backwoods pioneer towns. Education was not mandatory in those days. It was a privilege to go to any school. Families worse off than my fathers’ didn’t go to school at all.
It wasn’t till after 1918 and World War I had ended that our country realized public education must be made free, mandatory — and paid for by our tax dollars. It would not only prepare better future soldiers for our country’s defense system, but The Industrial Revolution, then in full swing, also required that people be able to read, write, do math, follow the Employer’s directions, show up for work on time, and be dependable. Mandatory education developed these skills and habits in an otherwise unruly, unschooled person.
But, despite a poor preparatory education, Daddy accomplished much more in life than many people with far better education and advantages. He was a proud and confident man in various ways, therefore. His being gifted, talented, and successful at things he attempted in life helped build his self-esteem, despite the negative aspects of his early education and childhood. This confidence exudes in his photos.
His teacher and that old-fashioned, backward school system had branded him as “Not Smart, a bad person, and a poor student — a DUNCE!” How sad, because he was a bright, gifted boy. I, having taught school for thirty years, should know what I am talking about!
It grieves me that there are teachers who can be so judgmental they brand children for life, thinking they know what they’re doing. They don’t! I’ve experienced this branding firsthand. It only shows the ignorance of the teachers who would do such a thing to any student.
Their ignorance, arrogance, ego, and the need to control gets the best of them. If they looked at and treated every student as if that child were the son or daughter of the school Superintendent, Principal, or President of the United States, I guarantee you that would take any judgmental Educator down a notch or two — and their students up a notch or two!
* I only recently I learned that Daddy had half-siblings, the products of his parents’ second marriages. I never heard about any of this when I was growing up. However, my point in this blog is to tell a little of my backstory. My purpose isn’t to tell my father’s full story. This is my memoir, not Daddy’s biography. I may write that somewhere down the line if I’m able to get all the information needed.
“Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic,
and power in it.
Begin it now.”
The year was 1958. The setting: Our home in Hurricane, Utah. The place: Around our average-sized family-room fireplace:
While the flames flickered and leapt, warmed and lit our cozy little living room, we Spencer kids (there were eleven of us then) sat huddled around our parents on the colorful rag rug Mother crocheted.
I was twelve, second to the oldest, and seventeen months younger than my oldest sibling, Doris — one of my rivals! While sixty-three-year-old Daddy sat situated on a high stool with a towel wrapped around his neck and shoulders, my talented, artistic thirty-seven-year-old Mother was at her routine task of trimming his white hair with the hair clippers he’d bought for this purpose.
As was often the case during such times, we kids were once again peppering Papa with personal questions about his intriguing boyhood, family, life … and white hair!
” I discovered my first gray hair when I was only fourteen years old!” Daddy explained. “Gray hairs really stand out when your hair is pitch black like mine used to be!”
My siblings and I were further enlightened when Mother got out Daddy’s scrapbook and a photo album so he could explain the pictures and keepsakes in them. There was a picture of my paternal grandmother dressed to the “T” in the high fashions of the early 1900s:
“My mother was a socialite,” he opined disapprovingly. “She was more concerned about her appearance and joining social circles than she was about staying home and being a good homemaker and mother. She always decked herself out in the latest grand styles of the day — as you can see in this picture,” continued Daddy, pointing to a photo of his attractive mother in a hat.
I never got to meet my paternal grandparents nor Daddy’s aunts who raised him. Daddy was about fifty-two when I was born. I was around five years old when, in her nineties, his last aunt died. At that time, she lived in Michigan and we lived in St. George, Utah. Lack of time and money precluded Daddy’s going to her funeral, though he had wanted to attend.
Before she died, I recall how elated he would be whenever a letter arrived from this aunt. Sometimes she would include a photo of herself, so I at least got to see what she looked like as a ninety-year-old woman … And I recall, too, the tears in Daddy’s eyes (a man who seldom showed any sign of tears) when he read the letter that said she died.
One of the many disadvantages of having a father old enough to be your grandfather is his parents die before you’re old enough to meet them — that is, if he even kept in contact with his parents at all — which he did very little of.
Continuing with Daddy’s pictures: In another photo, his handsome “half-breed” entrepreneur mother stood on the porch in front of a wooden building. Daddy recounted: “My mother owned a hotel or boarding house. I helped her with the work there, oftentimes … sweeping the big porches, fixing things, and helping at the front desk.
“In my free time, I loved to create things that really worked … like miniature model windmills I carved and devised myself, where the blades of the windmill could actually turn if you blew on them … or when there was wind.”
He was very proud of his ingenuity and creativity — the things he was amazingly able to come up with and make, though only a young boy — a child … things nobody else around him devised, not even adults. He loved to draw, too — funny caricatures and so forth.
“I also loved to design and create things like little wagons and cars with wheels that could roll — and even little houses and buildings. And I loved to carve whistles, wooden ducks, dogs, and other toys that had wheels on them so they could be pulled around with us wherever we went — which was how we made our toys move, back in those days.
“My dream was to be an Engineer — How I longed to be in the driver’s seat of a train and to work on trains. Trains were the big thing then — an invention just coming into existence when I was a young boy. It was back when most people did not own a car, and Model T Fords were barely becoming the big rage among the rich.
“One of the first cars accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. I was thirteen years old when that car came out. Henry Ford was my idol! I loved that he was an Inventor. I wanted to be an Inventor, myself — to design and create things like Ford and other Creators of my day.
“If I could’ve had my way and I’d had the advantage of money ‘n’ a good education, I would’ve been an Engineer. But instead of goin’ back to school ‘n’ workin’ for years to get the education I needed so as to go to college ‘n’ get an Engineering Degree, I married ‘n’ had a bunch of kids — to help build up God’s kingdom. Then spent my time workin’ to raise ‘n’ support my families — My first family with Eva. And now this one with yer ma.” Then Daddy changed the subject:
“As a youth, I never liked to sit around wastin’ time, nor to play silly games like the rest of the kids … Liked to put my time to good use … to create things. Silly, noisy kids got on my nerves.* But being an only child was a very lonely life. That’s one reason I chose to have lots of kids when I got married.”
*Explanation: Daddy was an Introvert — a creative like me. If you do not know the characteristics of the different and unique special Introvert brain and personality, there are a number of good books on the market that explain this valuable and wondrous trait.
If you are related to Floyd Otto Spencer, chances are you and some of your children and posterity are also Introverts. Most Creatives, such as artists and writers, are Introverts or at least Ambiverts, as opposed to Extroverts. The world needs all these personality types.
The following are titles of three excellent books on this subject that you may be interested in reading or at least skimming. If you can’t find some of these in your library or online, there are other books on the subject.
1- “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World,” by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
2- “Party of One:The Loner’s Manifesto,” by Anneli Rufus
3- “The Highly Sensitive Person:How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,” by Elaine N. Aaron, Ph.D.
“You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories. If people wanted you
to write warmly about them,
they should have behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott
Going back to where we left off with Daddy saying he wanted to have a large family of children, let me tell you that this is one dream he fulfilled. He had eleven beautiful children with his first wife Eva Bowman Spencer. And fourteen more beautiful children with his second wife, my mother Esther LeBaron Spencer. Thus, he was not only guaranteed to never be lonely again but to never have a moment’s peace or quietude, either.
More often than not, there was even a new baby crying, keeping him up at night. But he finally learned how to pretty much fix that: He would waterboard them (not that uncommon, at least among the Mormon fundamentalists). At times, he would even beat the tiny new babies incessantly for crying. (Tears!!)
But mainly, he mostly held his big strong hand over their mouth and nose till they were suffocating, all the while yelling at them:
“Shut up the goddamned crying!! Do you hear?! Shut up, I said, or you’ll getmore to cry about!!”
After he did that consistently a number of times, it generally taught most of his babies not to be caught dead crying — if they could possibly help it. (Then you wonder why Morman fundamentalist children are so well-behaved?!)
He, like many fundamentalists, believed the Bible’s “Spare the rod and spoil the child” meant to literally beat the devil out of the kids so as to make them submissive to adults and thus to God. They believed the sooner they were made submissive, the better.
But I have since learned that some spiritual leaders believe “the rod” is only a metaphor for “the gospel.” In other words, if you don’t teach your children the gospel, they will grow up spoiled, wayward, and rebellious.
I believe force and brutality toward children — or anyone … or any animal — does just the opposite of beating the devil out of them: It beats the devilinto them; i.e., can make them angry, hateful, emotionally disturbed, mean, and devilish. It also can cause them to split from themselves, and to lose their will, give up, and become zombies or such. It breaks their spirit.
In fact, one of the best ways to hypnotize a hyperactive, incorrigible, misbehaving child is to plant yourself right in his/her space and yell vociferously in the child’s face: “Behave!!!! Stop that!!!” Or whatever else it is you wish of the child. The child will do what you tell him/her after that … at least for a while.
I wonder what kind of abuse my father suffered at the hands of adults when he was growing up since violent and abusive ways of parenting are generally passed down from one generation to the next.
Unless one is able to recognize, then intercept and stop this abusive cycle and pattern learned from one’s upbringing and teachings, it will be passed on to one’s own offspring ad infinitum!
But thank God/Goodness, there are now laws in our country that carry stiff penalties for abusing children — as well as women, animals — or anyone … thanks to coalitions of good people who have worked diligently together throughout our society and other civilized parts of the earth to make this world a better and safer place for everyone.
However, reclusive families, such as in cults, often remain backward when it comes to improvements in behavior norms. Believing they are the only ones with “the truth,” and lead by poorly educated, narrow-minded leaders, they learn nothing much from “the world” that, nonetheless, continues to change and improve as it strives to learn how to make a better world for all through education, college, books, publications, educational T.V., films, computers, social media, and so forth.
That said, one reason Daddy and Mother were so anxious to move to the LeBaron colony in Old Mexico in 1960 was that shortly before their decision to move, a Federal law was passed against Child Abuse. It stipulated dire legal penalties for parents who hit, beat, or otherwise physically abused their children. Daddy proclaimed vehemently, in regards to that law:
“What the hell right has the government to step in and tell me how to raise my children?! I am the Priesthood head of my family! The Bible says, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ In other words, parents are to ‘bend the twig’ correctly. We do that by beating the devil out of our children while they are still young enough to be taught how to behave and grow up as straight vines, not twisted, warped ones.
“Once a seedling is warped, you can’t change it. You can observe an example of that in plants and trees that weren’t supported and staked properly so they would grow straight rather than deformed. I can’t wait to get out of this wicked country and gather with the Saints in Zion, there in Colonia LeBaron where I’m free to exercise old, time-honored Biblical laws when it comes to raising my family!”
“A good memoir is born from that uniquely important place in your personal history.” “Writing Your Hot-Topic Memoir” Dr. Scott
Daddy was an autodidact.In other words, he was self-taught in many areas. He would get books on auto mechanics, carpentry, building construction, watch and clock repair, farming, health — you name it — and learn how to do these things … How to eat healthfully, for example. Sometimes he took Night School classes too.
By the late 1940s or early 1950s, he was a Singer Sewing Machine salesman and repairman. He went from home to home selling and setting up this newfangled, popular electric sewing machine that had quickly outdated the old treadle sewing machines.
He taught the proud owners how to use their new modern electric Singer sewing machine and its many attachments — such as the attachment for making buttonholes. And he maintained the machines, should they need servicing.
Later on, he morphed into a self-employed entrepreneur — a General Contractor, capable of building homes and commercial buildings from the ground up, including creating the blueprints.
People hired him because he could save them money, time, and trouble by doing everything himself: He could do the blueprint, foundation, building’s frame, cement work, flooring, roofing, electrical, plumbing, brick and rock work, landscape, carpentry, painting, and whatever else the new building required.
Provided they had time to wait for a one-man job to be finished, he was your man. Hiring a bunch of contractors and construction workers to do the job all at once was much more expensive and time-consuming, but would get the job done a lot faster if that was what one needed to do.
Because he was an introvert (or ambivert?) he preferred to work by himself. It’s a good thing because he didn’t get along well with most people. He had an artistic, fastidious, and perfectionistic personality, topped off with religious fanaticism, a high-strung, short-fused temper, and a sharp tongue. What’s worse, he regularly called to repentance people in his presence he saw doing things that were against his religion!
For example, he would tell mainstream Mormons they were headed for hell because they had given up plural marriage, practiced birth control, and had “mutilated” the holy temple garments Joseph Smith “ordained of God” and said should never be cut nor otherwise changed. This foot washing fundamentalist father of mine took his religion very seriously!
That said, he would regularly worry, harass, and chastise women in the Mormon fundamentalist groups, too, for doing things like cutting their hair, sporting “worldly hairdos and makeup” — and for wearing their hemlines too high and their necklines too low! (Hemlines were supposed to be about down to the ankle, and necklines about up to the collarbone.)
“That tight sweater and skirt you’ve got on is exactly what leads men to rape women! You look like a goddamned Delilah!!” he swore at me one day when I was thirteen years old and dressed to go to school. That sure “learnt” me a lesson!
Though I took off the sweater and skirt, so popular in the 1950s, and never wore such clothing again (during my life in the fundamentalist cult) I now know there is no excuse for men to rape women under any condition!
If how women look or dress determines whether they get raped or not, then what about Aborigines and other Indigenous societies who go/went around, as a way of life, stark naked, half-naked — and “half-baked“? (Pun intended.)
It’s all a matter of culture, style, and one’s values, really. Women are not to blame if some all-brawn-no-brains men choose to dominate and use women to their own advantage.
A man’s being more muscular than women doesn’t make him superior to women. It certainly doesn’t give him the right to brutalize them or run them. Only backward people adhere to that old-world way of thinking.
In general, men aren’t superior to women, other than muscularly. (When I was young and in shape, I was able to win more than one out-of-shape man in an arm wrestle, LOL!) Women are not objects, either, as some men seem to think. Men don’t own them — nor do they have the right to strong-arm nor otherwise control women — despite what some fundamentalist Mormons, et Al, believe.
But getting back to Daddy, his regularly chastising others and setting them straight led me to believe he, himself, was pretty perfect. He must be, it seemed, if he could call others on the carpet for not adhering to our extremist sect’s strict dress code or other such. If he could call others to repentance, he must be doing everything right himself, yes?
However, in hindsight (always the best sight) I see he needed to lighten up, simmer down, mind his own business — and quit projecting his own fears and faults onto others. In other words, like so many of us, he needed more patience and persistence, and less pestering of others; i.e., He needed to exhibit more charity. He just didn’t know it yet.
NOTE: continued in “Pt 6-9, My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member.” Also, this series is posted in full on my website: “Pt 1-9, My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member”
Caveat…The story you are about to read is true and I never killed anyone unless it was a justifiable homicide.
My name is David M. and I am 57. I was born on December 16, 1952 in Mesa Arizona. I am the eldest of 12 children. I am a Sagittarius and I love adventure. My adventure started when I was five years old after my parents Nephi and Anna Mae took me to live in a colony of ex-Mormons in the state of Chihuahua Mexico called Colonia LeBaron. This colony is a small place that is just south of Galeana Chihuahua Mexico and is and just north of San Buenaventura Chihuahua Mexico. This is a colony where they practice polygamy. (I do not practice it.) During my childhood I did not have time to be a kid because the elders had us all in the fields clearing it so they could plant alfalfa, tomatoes, sugar cane and corn. It was difficult time to say the least. By the time I was 9 years old I was taught how to plow the cleared fields behind a mule team and was out there plowing the rows to be planted. That is the way it was between 9 and 12 years old.
During that time my mother left my dad Nephi and married the second in charge of the church called Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times or as call I call it “The Cult.” His name was Ervil LeBaron (Look him up on Goggle) and he had 9 or 10 wives and many children. He was an evil man with the soul of the devil. Ervil hated me with all his might because I was the eldest son of my mother and not a product of him. This is the only explanation I can come up with because before I started rebelling I was an obedient kid. Well because of his hatred for me through no fault of my own I became rebellious and refused to follow his orders and defied him at every turn. One day when I was 12 years old I flat out refused to do something he ordered me to do so he ended up beating me with his fists and kicked me with his feet to the point I lost consciousness. I remember that before losing consciousness I saw my mother standing at the front door of our house watching what was going on and she walked back into the house.
David’s mother, Anna Mae
When I regained consciousness in the dirt street in front of our house I dragged my bleeding body to a hand cranked well where I drew water and washed the blood from my body. It took me a lot of years to forgive my mother for that but I have since forgiven her.
She was caught up looking at Ervil as a living God because she felt he was a Prophet and felt he could do no wrong. Even though my mother says she does not remember the incident I have still forgiven her and moved on from that. I remember while cleaning up the blood from my body I felt such a burning rage sweep through me. I had such pure hatred pulsing through my heart and soul for Ervil that I decided then and there I was going to kill him even if I had to do it with my bare hands. Ervil was a huge man compared to me but I really did not care at that point.
I remember getting a kerosene lamp (We had no electricity) and going down into the dark basement of the house. I was always scared to go down there but this day I was not scared. I rummaged through the boxes and odds and ends looking for something to use to kill him. I eventually found a rusty single shot 12 gauge shotgun and some old shotgun shells. I remember sneaking the shotgun out of the house then going far away from the house where I tested it to see if it worked. I figured out how to load it and boy did it work. I nearly broke my shoulder firing it. I then hid out where I knew Ervil would come by in his truck and waited and waited until he showed up. While I was waiting, something happened to me that to this day I cannot explain. While waiting with this rage which was building and building, I began to feel an intense heat begin to permeate my body.
It started at my feet and worked its way all the way to the top of my head. The sensation was so real I remember being confused and wondering where the heat was coming from. This heat was of such intensity I can only describe it as if one is too close to a raging bonfire and your flesh feels like it is coming off. I dropped the shotgun on the ground and as soon as I did the intense heat dissipated. I picked up the shotgun and took it to a small manmade lake located nearby and threw it in the lake. I believe there was some Devine intervention that day, which stopped me from becoming a murderer, well that is what I think anyway and I am glad I did not kill Ervil even though he was an evil, evil man. After throwing the shotgun into the lake I returned home where I took a blanket and four loaves of my mother’s homemade wheat bread and with the clothes on my back I walked to the highway and hopped a ride never to return.
From the age of 12 until I was 16 years old I roamed alone throughout Mexico working as a cowboy field hand and construction worker. I spent much of my time living under bridges, bushes the stars and in culverts along the highway. Needless to say I had many adventures. (More to plug in here) I eventually ended up in Tijuana Baja California Mexico during winter time. I only had a blanket to keep warm which did not do very well in that respect but it was better than a stick in the eye. I was freezing and hungry and sick with a nagging strong cough. I found myself on a street in Tijuana where all the prostitutes hang out. I walked up and down the street to talking to several of them individually asking them for some food. All but one yelled at me something to the effect “Lárgate Niño malcriado” which loosely translated means “Get the “F” out of here you miscreant child.” One of the women named Maria took pity on me though and got me something to eat and took me to a pharmacy where she paid for some medicine. I remember the guy gave me a shot in my butt which seemed to eventually cure whatever I had.
She bought me a warm coat and let me live with her down at the Tijuana River where back then people lived in board and tarpaper type shacks. It was a filthy place to live but at least I had a roof over my head. I think they have all been torn down now. I lived with her for about 3 or 4 months and she treated me like her little brother. I walked the streets with her to keep my eye on her so she would not get hurt. I think I was 14 years old then. I then left and continued my way down south never to see her again. I wish I knew where she was so I could find her and thank her for helping me in my time of need. I then ended up in a small community just south of Ensenada called either Ejido or Colonia Chapultepec where Estero Beach is located. I ran into a local kid named Felipe on the beach who rented horses to the American Tourists. I hung out with him during the day and at night I lived under an overturned boat on the beach just outside Estero Beach next to a dilapidated bait shack where I later sold salted anchovies to the tourists. I remember one day while walking along the highway in Maneadero Baja California I stopped to rest in an olive grove next to a ditch. I distinctly remember asking myself if being a homeless person was all I was ever going to amount to.
It was at that point I decided I had to somehow find my way to my grandma’s house in Mesa Arizona. All I knew at that point is that I had a grandmother named Hattie in Mesa Arizona and an Uncle Melvin. I said goodbye to my friend Felipe and headed south. While walking along the highway between Maneadero and Colonia Vicente Guerrero one night I decided to sleep in a culvert under the highway. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I had been walking along the highway picking up cigarette butts people had thrown out of their cars and was smoking them. I went down into the culvert and wrapped myself in my blanket and fell asleep. The next thing I remember is hearing these God awful snarling sounds coming from the area of my feet. I woke up and realized that a large pack of coyotes were in the culvert and in the process of attacking me. They must have thought I was a dead body or something and were going to eat me. I probably smelled pretty ripe at that time. When they started biting my shoes and tearing at my blanket I rose up in such a fright I began screaming at them at the top of my lungs. I picked up anything I could lay my hands on and threw whatever I had in my hand at them.
I ran up to the highway and just kept running with a rock in my hand and looking behind me to make sure they were not coming after me. When daylight came I was going to throw the rock away but realized it was a crystal about the size of a half a pack of cigarettes or a little less. I kept that rock all these years and made a small crystal rock necklace with it which I have to this very day. I continued my journey south and ended up in Colonia Vicente Guerrero where I found a job digging for clams at the beach. It was cold work because I had to go out into the surf waist deep early in the morning and dig them out with a garden type pitch fork and put them into a gunny sack. I worked as a clam digger for a while living in a rusted out car next to the sand dunes and ate clams every day. I then headed south again and got a ride in a pickup truck with a Mexican man who ended up dropping me off in the middle of the desert because he was turning off the main highway and going east up into the mountains. There I was, without food and water in the middle of nowhere during the middle of the day. It had been raining so I looked around in the desert for any pools of water may have collected and the only water I found was that which had collected in some cow hoof prints. Of course I drank it.
I found a rattlesnake by accident which I killed with a rock and skinned and gutted with my bare hands because I did not have a knife. I did have matches though which I used to light the cigarette butts I found discarded along the highway. I found some dry grass and started a little camp fire which I used to cook the snake over the coals. I had done that before with jack rabbits I had killed while roaming throughout Mexico. I then found a Cholla Cactus and an Ocotillo bush. I removed several sections from the cactus and Ocotillo with some rocks and sticks to form a ring on the ground so I could sleep in the middle and keep the snakes away from me. I had a restless sleep that night and the next day I was picked up by another Mexican man in a pickup truck and off I went making it to El Rosario Baja California. I remember coming down into the town from the mesa and being dropped off at Mama Espinoza’s Restaurant. There was one of those old gas pumps in front of the restaurant the type where the gasoline was hand pumped into a glass container on top of the pump. I think I was 15 years old then. Back then there were no paved roads that I recall beyond El Rosario. I remember that I was starving and that Mama Espinoza took me in and gave me food and a warm place to sleep.
She treated me as though I was one of her own children. I told her my name was David Martinez because I was an illegal alien in Mexico and did not want to get in trouble. Back then I was a kid and I think I was not expected to have a Mexican Government ID but just the same I did it to be on the safe side. I worked at the restaurant for a time then I went to work at a ranch called Rancho San Juan de Dios located in the mountains south east of El Rosario where Anita’s husband Heraclio Espinoza owned a small ranch. One of Mama Espinoza’s sons and his wife lived on the ranch at the time. Before her son was at the ranch he worked as an abalone diver and wore a hard hat type diving suit to gather abalone. While I was at the ranch an old man came who was hired to build an adobe house next to a water tank and a small stream. One of my jobs was that of helper and had to haul big adobe bricks to him. The man was an alcoholic. I don’t know how, but he managed to keep everything level and plumb. Whatever he was drinking he always put it in his coffee morning noon and night. At night after work he would drink some more and walk along the lonely dirt road in the hills of the ranch singing and yelling. There was nothing around for miles and miles but cactus, wild animals and cows.
One night the old man took off on one of his walks and I fell asleep. I was suddenly awakened and could hear him yelling very loudly from a long way away. It sounded as though he was injured or something. I went to wake up Mama Espinoza’s son at the main house and found he too was awakened by the yells of the old man. We walked for a long distance down the road in pitch black toward the yelling old man. When we found him he was lying on the ground drunk as a skunk with one of his arms over the neck of a calf and singing to it. We dragged him for what seemed like an eternity back to his bunk where he refused to go to sleep and kept arguing that he wanted to go back and sing to the calf some more. We had to hold him down until he finally passed out. The next morning he denied he did any such thing and was pissed at us for making up the story. I wonder what happened to him. After I returned to the restaurant from Rancho San Juan de Dies, one day a young American Tourist traveling alone stopped to buy gas at Mama Espinoza’s in an old World War II 4X4 ambulance wagon. It was still painted in the military green.
He told me that he was going to cross over the mountains to the other side of Baja California and head over to San Felipe Baja California. I told him I was an American and was trying to get to my grandmother’s house in Mesa Arizona. He offered to give me a ride as far as San Felipe so that day I told Mama Espinoza I had to leave. I thanked her for her kindness and left with American who gave me a ride to San Felipe. I got a job in San Felipe working as a dishwasher at a restaurant on the beach north of town. I slept in a small rat infested trailer while working there. I remember the owner had an old, old Toyota Helix pickup truck that we always had to park on a hill to start it by popping the clutch because the starter would not work. One day I got so sick that I remember dreaming that rats were eating me. The next thing I know is I am waking up in the surf and the pickup truck is parked on the beach. I guess I drove it to the beach and jumped into the surf which must have reduced my fever to some degree. I remember an American tourist couple were walking on the beach and pulled me from the surf. I guess I was out of my mind because the next thing I know I was at the local clinic where they paid for my care. I wish I knew who they were so I could thank them.
I had the Hong Cong Flu or something. One day after I felt better and working at the restaurant a shrimp boat captain came to the restaurant from his fishing boat on a smaller boat which he beached and came into the restaurant to eat. I found out he was out of Guam’s Sonora which was on the other side of Bhatia de California and one step closer in getting to Arizona. After explaining my situation and wanting to get to my grandmother’s house in Arizona I asked if he would give me passage to Guam’s which he said he would. I worked for 2 or 3 weeks on the shrimp boat. I remember that for the first couple of days I was so seasick I was in the fetal position in the living quarters. After that I was ok and got my sea legs. The captain dropped me off in Guam’s where I got work with Circus Vargas feeding the elephant and cleaning up their poop. I remember they had such large poops. While working at the circus I found out there was a warehouse near the Port of Guam’s where semi tractor trailer drivers loaded up to head to Nogales Mexico which borders with Arizona. I asked around for passage to the border until one of the drivers finally consented to give me a ride.
He gave me a pack of Raleigh cigarettes and told me to meet him at the warehouse the next morning before light. I camped out near the warehouse next to some trash cans all night long until he showed up at the warehouse then next morning. The trucker gave me a ride to Nogales Mexico. He drove me all the way to the border and pointed out a line of people walking into the United States and told me “Kid get in the line and when you reach the immigration man tell him you are an American Citizen.” I got in line and continued forward with the rest of the people. At the time I was wearing rags for clothes and had cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes in the soles of my shoes. I also spoke better Spanish than English at the time. Well when I reached the immigration guy I told him I was an American Citizen trying to reach my grandmother’s house in Mesa Arizona. For whatever reason he did not believe me, and neither did any of the other immigration guys. They ended up turning me over to the Mexican Immigration who locked me up in the Nogales Mexico Jail. God was I scared. I was in a big cell with many criminals and with only one toilet to go to the bathroom. I spent the night wide awake and never used the bathroom once.
The following day the Chief of Police had me brought to him and asked me what the hell I was doing in his jail cell. I told him about Colonia LeBaron and my homeless travels throughout Mexico and that I was a 16 year old American Citizen just trying to get to my grandmother’s house in Mesa Arizona. God did he raise the roof at the police station with the people who placed me in the jail cell. The Chief made a telephone call to someone and the next thing I know is two Americans came to interview me at the police station. I told them my story and the names of my grandma and uncle and they said they would try to find them for me. For the next 4 months or so I lived at the police station in a small room where they put a cot so I could have a place to sleep. The policemen bought me some new clothes and new shoes and some of them even took me to their house so I could take a shower. I became the official police shoeshine boy, office cleaner and interpreter until my Uncle Melvin showed up with my American Birth Certificate and took me home to my grandmother’s house in Mesa Arizona.
At the Age of 17 I joined the Marines and went to Boot Camp in San Diego California. God only knows how I passed the test to get into the Marines since I had no real formal education before the little I received when I went to my grandmother’s house. At the age of 19 I married a girl while stationed at Marine Barracks, Naval Ammunition Depot Hawthorne, Nevada. Her name is Donna. We were married for 10 years and had 3 children Katrina, David Jr. and Dana. I now have 6 grandchildren. While in the Marines I was a Military Policeman then went on to become a Criminal Investigator with the Criminal Investigation Division. I was sent to Okinawa Japan where I worked with the drug suppression team. We worked closely with the Japanese Narcotics Control Department, which is the Japanese D.E.A. because the Military personnel would trade military equipment and arms with the Japanese Mafia called the Yakuza in exchange for drugs.
One day our team consisting of Americans and our Japanese counterparts entered into an operation against the Yakuza. One of my responsibilities was to be a lookout on the outer perimeter looking for anyone sneaking up from behind us while the assault team entered the building to take down the Yakuza and any military personnel in the building.
I was located in an open raw sewage ditch we called “Benjo Ditches” which is common in Okinawa. What a stench. I had my .45 Caliber pistol locked and loaded in my right hand with several other loaded magazines at the ready. I had just looked back toward the warehouse from my rear when suddenly the hair on the back of my neck rose up. I whirled around my pistol in hand with my elbow tucked into my side and to my horror there was a Yakuza pointing a shotgun at my head from about 10 feet away. It seemed like everything slowed down at that point.
I remember realizing he was not one of the good guys because he was not wearing the yellow pieces of cloth each of the team members tied around their left and right upper arms. This all must have happened in microseconds because as soon as I turned I pulled the trigger as fast as I could and emptied my magazine into the man and he fell dead. I remember that one of the first things I thought about afterwards was that moment many years back when I was going to shoot Ervil LeBaron with the shotgun and wondered if I had shot him would I have survived this shotgun encounter. To this day I wonder if there was a connection with the two incidents. I later had to go before a Japanese Judge where I was exonerated and the incident declared self defense.
After coming home from Okinawa I divorced my first wife and three years later I married a Marine. We had a son who now works for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department as a Corrections Deputy. My second wife the Marine and I ended up going to the first Gulf War called Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. She was in the desert closer to the enemy in Kuwait than I was. She was near Al-Saffaniyah and I was assigned to the Port of Al-Jubayl and was the Chief of Detectives in charge of seven Criminal Investigators responsible for investigating crimes for 75,000 Marines. My wife was an Electronic Repair Technician. We rarely saw one another. Occasionally I would sneak away from the base and drive the one hundred miles at breakneck speeds in my white Crown Victoria to get there before dark. I wore one of those red and white checkered Saudi Arabian headdresses to blend in with the rest of the Saudi Arabians driving on the road. I would bring her things she could not get out in the desert and only had time to spend an hour or so with her. Before heading back I would have to fuel up at the fuel farm from big bladders of “Mo-Gas” and head back on the dirt road at night with my headlights out because they were in black out conditions.
It was a bitch driving in the desert on the dirt road with my head poked out of the driver window trying to keep on the road and going through military check points in a civilian car hoping they would not shoot at me while trying to get back to the highway. Once on the highway though I drove the 100 miles back to Al-Jubayl at 100 miles an hour or higher in that Ford Crown Victoria. I loved that car. I went to see her only a couple of times during my 9 months in Saudi Arabia. When I returned to the states I retired after 23 years and would only drive a Ford Crown Victoria for years up until recently. Since my retirement I started another career as a Criminal Defense Investigator and I work for a county government in California. I have about eight years left before I can retire and get my second retirement. My wife continued on with her career in the Marines and also did two tours in Iraq before she retired this year after serving 30 years. We have been separated for the past 15 years but still live under the same roof. She lives in her side of the house and me in mine. Life continues on. Let’s see where my next adventure begins.
David’s blog on his trip to see Mama Espinoza will follow in a few days.
My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And the Perils of Polygamy — Pt 8
“It is not our exalted feelings, it is our sentiments that build the necessary home.” Elizabeth Bowen
We left off where I was querying Mama about her past, present, parents … and the perils of polygamy:
“Sadly,” Mama told me, “Pa ‘n’ Ma failed miserably in their all-out efforts to follow Joseph Smith’s commandment to live polygamy or be damned to hell. Aunt Onie* ultimately left Papa, taking with her, her six children she’d borne him.
Actually, what happened is, while Grandpa Dayer was away on one of his long trips painting houses in the United States, Aunt Onie fell for and had an affair with a handsome and charming young Mexican man. When she became pregnant with his child, her affair was discovered. So Grandpa “put her aside.”
But, personally, I don’t blame Aunt Onie for being attracted to another man: She was around thirty years old. Her fifty-year-old husband was gone much of the time. And when home, Onie had to share him with Grandmother Maud (thirteen years Onie’s senior), and a household full of children and chores … plus all the jobs her husband had to do around home, yard, and town.
But even if none of that mattered, it’s hard to resist temptation when you’re young, attractive, lonely, lovelorn, forlorn … and your husband is generally off sowin’ his wild “corn”/oats. And what’s worse, when he is home, sex is only for having children:
[Grandpa believed and held to “The Law of Chastity,” the Mormon fundamentalist doctrine that proclaimed, among other things, that sex was only for procreation. And once the wife was pregnant (and also while she was nursing) he was to leave her alone and have no more sex with her!]
But note the oxymoron: Aunt Onie’s husband could have a plural wife, but God forbid Aunt Onie had a plural husband — though if anyone ever needed a plural husband, it was she!
Aunt Onie finally solved her love-n-loneliness dilemmas by leaving Grandfather Dayer and polygamy altogether. She simply went to visit her family of origin in Hurricane, Utah, settled near them — and never returned.
Poor, grief-stricken, and emotionally abandoned Aunt Onie was shunned till she was forced, though totally heartbroken about it, to adopt out her beautiful illegitimate brown baby: Adultery and bearing a baby out of wedlock — especially a half-breed — was simply unacceptable among 1930’s Mormons!
But Aunt Onie lived near and visited regularly her darling “bastard baby,” as they were called back then. How do I know all this? Because Mama told me. And because, between the years of 1955 and 1960, my family lived near Aunt Onie in Hurricane, Utah.
One day Aunt Onie actually came to my school and gave a speech to our Jr. High/High School student body, as part of a Community Outreach Program. The theme of her speech centered on how she, as a young adult, had made some egregious errors she hoped we would not fall into, ourselves.
Among the many things she told us was: “I ignored my parents’ ‘n’ the church’s advice, ‘n’ married into polygamy. My rebellion ‘n’ goin’ against the leaders of the church led me into a life of sin, misery, ‘n’ shame.
“After unbearable sufferin’ ‘n loneliness — which sin always leads to — I eventually saw the error of my ways, repented of my sins, ‘n’ returned to the LDS Church. Then I got rebaptized for the remission of my sins.”
Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she related her painful misgivings, mistakes, and miserable story. What an amazingly strong woman she was to open up and share, honestly, her experiences and lessons with us young people. I was and still am impressed with her show of humility and integrity. Aunt Onie was a wonderful example to us students, that day … and a wonderful public speaker!
Now let’s get back to where Mama was telling me about when she and her siblings lost Aunt Onie and their half-siblings who had been so much a part of their life for around fourteen years — including the two years or so when Onie babysat them and helped care for them before she married Grandpa Dayer as his plural wife:
“Words cannot express the sorrow I felt … our whole family felt,” reminisced Mama –– “upon losing Aunt Onie ‘n’ our playmates — our six half-brothers ‘n’ sisters we’d grown up with.
“We’d shared the same house with them for seven years. And Aunt Onie had taken care of us like a second mother, while Mama was often gone — busy teachin’ piano lessons to help support the family.”
Mother and her siblings never got over having lost their “other mother,” and six half-siblings. But during the years my family lived in Hurricane, Utah, Mama and Aunt Onie visited regularly. This helped Ma not miss so much her mother and family in Mexico.
*Note: They called Grandpa’s plural/second wife, “Aunt,” as a show of affection and kinship. Though in some polygamous families, the plural wife might have been called “Mama Onie,” or other such.
Continued in:“My Memoir: My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And the Perils of Polygamy — Pt 9”
I’m sittin’ alone in the moonlight, At the Heartbreak Hotel Café, Abandoned by women and men; And here’s all I have to say, “I’ll never eat garlic nor onions again — Not till my dying day —
NOT if it drives possible friendships away,
Miraculously keeping romance at bay!”
By Stephany Spencer
“One’s a plenty, two’s a crowd, Three on the sidewalk is not allowed.” Anonymous (But have you ever noticed in “Big Love” they might Be doing it behind your back — or closed doors? Step on a crack and try to keep track!)
Please, God, don’t let me be a fruitcake this Christmas; I don’t want to be eaten by one either! Stephany Spencer
When it comes to online dating, If you’re lookin’ for a mating, The odds are good That the goods are odd; So “wrots of wruck” with your mate-baiting! I won’t be holding my bag waiting.
Longing for a Soulmate No More
I used to long for a Soulmate, But I don’t long anymore, ‘Cause I damn well know in my core Who’d get stuck picking up after him … Plus a whole lot more!
For that same reason, In my “Golden-Sage” season, I no longer dream of Mr. Wright Nor a shining-armored knight; I’ve learned they’re all fairytales – No one’s coming to save me;
For sure, no horny, hairy males! And Stupid-Cupid least of all: Cupid’s but Libido and Nature
Having a ball. At long last, I’ve come to see My soulmate’s the other half of me; And it’s well that this should be. So I’ll leave my fate to God,
And what will be, we’ll see!
Me, Myself, and I
Sittin’ alone in the moonlight, I heard a lonesome cry; It must have come from within; There was only me, myself, and I!
Then I chanced to ask it,”Why? Why?!” Spoke the voice in soft reply: “’Because, wherefore, and therefore; That’s why!” So I gathered myself up with a sigh, To face the great by-and-by and cry, Because, in reality, there could only be Lonely me, myself, and I.
By Stephany Spencer (Written at age 14)
Bimbo Speaks: “Love may be blind,
but jealousy and envy sport
wide-angled telescopic vision
with binocular hindsight!” Stephany Spencer
Says Bimbo: “Who cares if four-inch heels Give you bunions, Backaches, ‘n’ achin’ feet?
What’s important is yer legs Look long ‘n’ sleek, And yer ankles slim ‘n’ petite!” Stephany Spencer
“There’s a vast amount of undeveloped territory just below my fancy hat ‘n’ hairdo — right betwixt me ears two!” Stephany Spencer
The Bimbo Class
My claim-to-fame is shoppin’, ‘Cause most parts of me
Are perfect ‘n’ hoppin’; So if it’s all the same to you, I’ll keep right on a-boppin’
In my fancy hat ’n’ updo; Let the intellectuals study it,
If they want to — And the undeveloped matter
Under it too!
But in “Alice, Through the Lookin’ Glass,” It didn’t matter where The Mad Hatter had ‘er — nor ‘er class; An’ it doesn’t matter a hair To the hare, either, what I do — So don’t be a “hare-up-my-ass”! (Well, did you expect better
Of the Bimbo class?!) Stephany Spencer
A Bimbo-Breakthrough: Old age ain’t for sissies …
And neither is bein’ a woman! Stephany Spencer
Bio Ballad of a Cult Survivor: My Bio in Verse, for Better or Worse (by Stephany Spencer)
1-I was born some time ago, way out in the sticks,
In a Mormon cult in Mexico, in nineteen forty-six;
By the time I was eleven, we were a family of twelve;
For everything I ever got, I had to dig and delve. Refrain: Dig and delve? Yes, dig and delve. For everything I ever got, I had to dig and delve.
2-We lived among the hicks; created toys out of sticks,
But we thought we were the best — God’s chosen people!
This was the only life I knew, all the while I grew;
To pass God’s tests is what we were here to do.
Chorus Oh, a hick! Yes, a dad-gummed polygamist hick,
Born into a cult, “Plyg!” was the ultimate insult;
But how was I to know someday I would grow
And leave it all behind, that stoic life of woe? Refrain: Life of woe? Oh, misery and woe –
So I left it all behind, a better world to know
3-A masochistic life of hell we all did sow —
It was the only world I’d ever know,
Till one day I did find these people were all blind —
And sniffing after some false prophet’s behind!
5-So I escaped this fanatic cult — left it all behind;
Into the world I went, a whole new life to find;
I settled in LA, and found a better way;
And now I am a Graduate of UCLA.
6–When I fled the polygamist cult, wasn’t sure what to expect; Times were hard and the wages were too low.
But I kept on keeping on, though progress was slow;
‘Twas better than I got in Old Mexico.
7-Now here I am today, living in a whole new way
From the backward one I started out with; I’m grateful for each day, and the good ole USA,
“You’ve come a long way, Babe,” I tell myself each day. TAG: I am a cult survivor, you sure could say — And a thriver in every way!